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Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

What is SIDS?

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), also known as crib death, is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant under one year of age. SIDS usually occurs during a baby's sleep time.

SIDS is rare, yet it is also the leading cause of death in babies between the ages of one month and one year old. Approximately one in 1,000 babies die of SIDS each year in the United States.

Who needs to be concerned about SIDS?

People with babies under the age of one need to be aware of SIDS and the things that can reduce its risk. Most SIDS cases occur when a baby is between one and four months old. The risk of SIDS is slightly higher for:

  • Premature infants;
  • Children with brothers or sisters who had SIDS;
  • Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and after birth.

What can I do to prevent SIDS?

There is no sure way to predict or prevent SIDS. However, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce a child's risk. SIDS is more common in babies who sleep on their stomachs, so to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Place your child to sleep on his/her back;
  • Place your child to sleep on his/her side with the lower arm forward to prevent him/her from rolling over.

There are certain health conditions that may require you to place your baby in a tummy-down position. If your baby was born pre-term, has a birth defect, frequently spits up after eating, or has breathing, lung, or heart problems, be sure to discuss sleeping positions with your doctor.

It's also important not to smoke, and not to let others smoke around your baby. Babies exposed to smoke are at increased risk for SIDS.

Additional information

To help keep your baby healthy, make sure he/she sleeps on a firm surface. Soft surfaces like comforters, pillows, and waterbed mattresses increase a baby's risk of suffocation. Crib additions like stuffed animals and toys may also be unsafe.

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